People and Planet campaign for ethical university banking

The People and Planet society is appealing to the University to cut ties with HSBC bank, after it emerged the company is a major contributor of Canada’s campaign to continue using tar sands fuel, against European penalties.

The University released a statement confirming HSBC held its “main account” but claimed it was “unaware of any recent discussions about changing bank.”

Isobel Edwards, YUSU Environment and Ethics Officer and People & Planet society Treasurer, maintains the University was “approached on the idea of switching banks and were very prompt in response and positive.”

However, she claims that when the University discovered why People and Planet wanted to speak to the University, “they then ignored further emails.”

The society was then informed that the University had no plans to change its bankers. Edwards upholds that “the University doesn’t really care about the moral implications of their banking practices.”

The People and Planet’s website states that the, “Alberta tar sands are the most destructive industrial project on the planet”.

The society has been supporting efforts to ensure that the Canadian tar sands are included in the Fuel Quality Directive (FQD). The FQD listed tar sands emissions as 23 per cent higher than those of conventional oil.

The society successfully convinced YUSU to sever ties with RBS last year and switch to the Co-operative Bank; the company responsible for obtaining evidence sparking this latest controversy.

Between 2007 and 2009, HSBC has given over 600 million in loans and over 8 billion in corporate debt underwriting to tar sands activities.

Institutions can unknowingly invest in the tar sands industry through staff pensions invested in tar sands-related companies, such as Shell and BP. The University of Birmingham currently carries out research for tar sands drilling.

“The University doesn’t really care about the moral implications of their banking practices”

Isobel Edwards, People & Planet Treasurer

On 3rd October the European Commission published its proposals for the FQD, which included a default value for tar sands, listing their emissions as 23 per cent higher than those of conventional crude oil. The UK government is opposed to the FQD, despite maintaining itself to be “the greenest government ever.”

People & Planet will be holding a tar sands-free week next term, full of awareness raising, protests and talks from prominent environmental figures.

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